Business operators in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have began rejecting old Naira notes in spite of Supreme Court order temporarily halting the ban on their use.
A report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said with the redesigning of N200, N500 and N1000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), and the Jan. 31 as deadline for use of the old notes. and subsequent to February 10 after which the notes would seize to be legal tender, there have been issues among Nigerians as to what the real status of the naira is.
The confusion was further higthened by the legal suit instituted by governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara at the Supreme Court on Feb. 3, requesting that the extention be extended February. 10 as announced by the CBN.
Following the suit, a seven-member panel of the apex court, led by John Okoro gave an order suspending the February. 10 deadline till Feb. 15, when the suit would be determined.
But investigation round parts of the FCT on Sunday to monitor use of the old notes, revealed they were being rejected in public places like fuel stations, market places and parks.
Mr Ndubuisi Ugwu, a commercial driver, was heard calling to passengers to board with new Naira notes, saying he started rejecting the old notes because fuel stations could not accept the old notes when he went to refill his cab
He said, “I went to fuel my car at the station with the old notes and it was rejected.
“That is why I am insisting on passengers boarding with new notes.”
On the Supreme Court Order, Ugwu said he was aware of it but insisted that since people had started rejecting the money he had no choice than to also follow suite .
Mrs Amina Shuaibu, a tomatoes seller at Karu Market, said she stopped collecting old notes since Feb. 11, following the Feb. 10 deadline given by the CBN.
According to her, she heard that the old notes have seized to be legal tender.
“Although, I heard that the court gave order that we should continue using the old notes but people are rejecting it in the market, that is why I am also rejecting it.
“I also heard that banks have equally stopped accepting the old notes but I do not know how true that is.
“There is so much confusion about the whole thing, so the best thing to do is not to collect it at all.”
Mr Philip Ogedengbe, a concerned Nigerian, who was seen educating traders in the market, said almost everybody in the market was rejecting the old notes.
He said he could not purchase any item on his list because he went to the market with old notes.
Ogedengbe, who said he was frustrated, added that the new notes were not easy to come by. He also said attempts to make transfer failed, adding that each attempt showed, “issuer inoperative”.
Vivian Anibe, a student, said she had used the last old N1,000 note on her to buy things she did not need.
Anibe said she went to buy bread but could not because the bread seller was not collecting old notes.
“This whole situation is so worriesome. “I came out to buy bread but could not because many people are no longer collecting the old notes.
“On my way home, I decided to try one more place and they were still collecting old notes unfortunately they did not have bread.
“I had to buy what I did not budget for but I am happy I have spent the money,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have continued to face challenges in their financial transactions due to inadequate circulation of the newly redesigned Naira notes.
This is as the Feb.10 deadline for the legal tender status of the old notes expired on Friday. This is even as stakeholders across the country are expressing frustration in accessing the new Naira notes. While traders and other small business owners have stopped accepting the old Naira notes across the country, many Nigerians who are still in possession of the old notes appear left stranded.
This is in spite of a Supreme Court ruling, which urged the Federal Government to accept the old notes as legal tender until Feb. 15.
The apex court’s ruling was on a suit brought before it by the governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states, seeking to halt the Naira redesign policy.
The Supreme Court had in a unanimous ruling granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Feb. 10 deadline for the swapping of the old naira notes with the new ones.
A financial expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, urged the government to obey the ruling.
Unegbu, who is a past President of the Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said that there was no need for Nigerians to panic.
He said that the law mandates the CBN to accept the old Naira notes in exchange for the new ones anytime they were presented.
He urged the apex bank to obey provisions of the act that set it up, adding that the Naira redesign policy and currency swap were supposed to be long term projects.
“The President should imstruct the CBN governor to hold on until when the Supreme Court will consider the matter on Feb. 15.
“The apex bank should also obey Section 20 of the CBN Act, which provides that it should continue to accept the old notes for swap, even when they cease to be legal tender,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Council of State on Friday, urged the CBN to immediately make enough of the new Naira notes available to Nigerians or resort to circulating the old notes.
Rising from a meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the council, however, declared its support for the Naira redesign policy.
It said that there was the need for the CBN to ensure adequate provision of Naira notes in the system.
The CBN has also assured Nigerians of its capacity to meet the country’s Naira demand.
It denied a report that had gone viral on the Internet that the Naira shortage was due to challenges faced by the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC).
According to a statement by Osita Nwanisobi, CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, at no time did the apex bank make such disclosure.
“What the CBN governor told the National Council of State meeting was that the NSPMC was working on printing denominations of the Naira to meet the transaction needs of Nigerians.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the CBN remains committed to performing its monetary policy function as stipulated in the CBN Act.
“We also wish to reiterate that the NSPMC has capacity and enough materials to print the required indent of the Naira,” he said.
He said that the apex bank was working assiduously to increase the circulation of new notes in the country.
Similarly, the NSPMC also expressed its capacity to produce and circulate adequate quantities of the new notes.
According to a statement by the company’s Managing Director, Ahmed Halilu, NSPMC has made adequate arrangement to continously produce redesigned banknotes as well as other denominations in line with the CBN indent for the year.